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Out of gates, Chargers fade

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.pe.com/sports/breakout/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_chargers_12.912760c.html" target="_blank">The Press-Enterprise</a>

    SAN DIEGO - Instead of giving 67,679 fans a reason to celebrate Sunday afternoon, the Chargers provided their fans almost as many second guesses, what-ifs and explanations of what went wrong.

    With a first-and-goal and 47 seconds left, San Diego seemed poised for a dramatic opening-day win over the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, Drew Brees threw a fourth-down interception in the end zone and the Chargers crept away with a 28-24 loss, left to ponder what Coach Marty Schottenheimer referred to as a host of "self-inflicted wounds."

    There were penalties -- eight for 62 yards, including two critical defensive penalties on third-down plays that led to the Cowboys' tying and go-ahead touchdowns.

    There was curious play calling, especially at the end. San Diego had gotten the ball to the Dallas 7 on Brees' 33-yard pass to Eric Parker down the middle. From there Brees tried four passes -- the first three incomplete, the fourth picked off by Aaron Glenn in the end zone with 30 seconds left -- while LaDainian Tomlinson acted as the game's highest-paid decoy.

    And there was the most obvious second guess of all: How would this game have developed if Antonio Gates were available?

    The All-Pro tight end spent a third and last game on the Chargers' roster exempt list, placed there by the team after he failed to sign a contract by last month's deadline. Gates' absence took away one significant weapon and probably allowed Dallas to devote more attention to Tomlinson (72 yards and a touchdown in 19 carries) and less to backup tight end Justin Peelle (two catches).

    "I'm sure he would have made a big difference; all your players make a difference," said General Manager A. J. Smith, who made the ultimatum to Gates after he failed to sign in time to report to training camp.

    "I'm sure if we'd won, you wouldn't be asking me the question, but ... I don't second-guess it," Smith said.

    The Chargers took a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter after Keenan McCardell's second touchdown catch.

    But rookie defensive end Luis Castillo's roughing-the-passer penalty negated a sack on third-and-10 from the Dallas 20, giving impetus to a Cowboys drive that ended up with Julius Jones' 5-yard touchdown run and the extra point that tied it with 5:41 left in the quarter.

    San Diego regained the lead on Nate Kaeding's 33-yard field goal. But Dallas took the lead with 3:06 left in the game on Drew Bledsoe's 2-yard pass to Keyshawn Johnson. The drive was kept alive when cornerback Quentin Jammer was called for holding on a third-and-16 play at the Chargers 37, giving Dallas an automatic first down.

    "This is football," Jammer fumed. "You're not supposed to sit out there and let wide receivers run open. This isn't track."

    Schottenheimer's take: "Whether the flag is right, wrong or indifferent, a player cannot put himself in a position where the guy even considers pulling it out of his pocket."
     

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